CBS 58 Investigates: Online employment scams

CBS 58 Investigates: Online employment scams

FALL RIVER, Wis. (CBS 58) -- A local woman says she can’t pay her bills after she fell victim to a job scam, and it turns out she may be one of dozens of victims across the country.

The victim, Roxanne Hooper, is moving out of her Fall River home and in with her daughter, because she can no longer pay her rent.  Hooper spent the summer working from home as a teacher for Satellite Online Academy, but the paychecks kept getting delayed.

“So I’m like what’s going on?” Hooper said. “I need to have my paycheck. I’ve got bills due. I got people to feed. You know?”

Hooper says she was owed about $3,500 when the online academy vanished.

“On the 21st  [of August] we all woke up to do some work, and everything was gone,” Hooper said.

“What do you mean everything was gone?” CBS 58 Investigates asked.

“We had no more access to our email, we had no more access to the platforms we were using,” Hooper said.

It turns out the company, and the supposed owner, Ethan Kramer, never existed. It was a scam.

“Employment scams was the number one scam reported to our BBB scam tracker in 2018,” said Lisa Schiller with the Better Business Bureau Serving Wisconsin.

Sometimes the goal of these scams is to get money. You will be asked to pay upfront for training or equipment.

“[Hooper] never actually gave any money, so what’s the point of a scam like this?” CBS 58 Investigates asked Schiller.

“Identity theft,” Schiller said.

The scammers get personal information, claiming they need it to process payroll. And Hooper isn’t the only one who fell for it. She’s in touch with about 60 other people across the country who did work for the company.  Many of them are filing complaints with the Better Business Bureau in Florida, where the company claimed to be based.

“Two have been processed, and six others have been reported through our BBB scam tracker,” Schiller said.

The BBB says these are some signs of a job scam: the job is guaranteed if you pay a fee, you’re hired and your first task is to cash a check and give a portion of the money back, the application requires your social security number or bank information, or the company only communicates by email.

The BBB says these job scams get posted on legitimate job sites, and you also have to be cautions when companies reach out to you. Many of us have our resumes online so it can be easy for scammers to find them, learn about us and then reach out with an offer.

Hooper doesn’t expect the scammer will ever be caught or that she’ll ever get her money

“It’s horrible,” Hooper said. “It’s horrible to find out you were duped like that.”

But she’s moving forward; to a new apartment and a new job, and she hopes others can learn from her story.

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